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Should Toddlers Have Tablets? If You’re Responsible, Why Not?

Kelly Taylor




There’s no denying that we live in a digital world. Everywhere you look, you find computers, mobile devices, and screens – so many screens. Sometimes, it seems like the world is encased behind glass, and we can only view it through apps and social media. 

However, that’s the power of progress. Decades ago, it was a fantasy to talk face-to-face with someone across the world. Now, you can do it from virtually anywhere. Technology has brought us closer together and enabled seismic changes in our daily lives. 

That being said, too much time in front of a screen can worsen our physical and emotional health. 

So, if screen time is bad for adults, what does that mean for kids?

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Depending on who you ask, a tablet is either a godsend or a tool of the devil. For parents who need a break, a tablet is the best thing since the pacifier. 

On the other hand, parents who watch the news believe that any screen time is just asking for trouble. 

Fortunately, as with everything else in this world, it’s all about finding a balance. My thoughts? What’s the harm in a little interactive entertainment now and again?

To be clear, I’m not advocating for unlimited screen time. My kids still have to grow up as a human being, not a robot. I understand that more time on a tablet can lead to a variety of problems later on. 

Science also backs me up here. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the limit for screen time should be one hour per day for children under five. This includes everything from smartphones to regular old television. 

What’s the danger? Well, according to recent studies, toddlers that spent several hours per day on a tablet scored much lower on various cognitive and developmental tests. These tests are designed to assess a child’s motor functions, such as stacking blocks or matching shapes. 

The problem with too much screen time is that kids don’t learn how to interact with the real world. A perfect example of this was when my child was using a coloring book for the first time. 

Instead of scribbling with the crayon as I expected her to, she touched the tip to a color on the side. Then, she tapped the section she wanted to fill in, just like on her tablet. She did this a couple of times until she got frustrated that nothing was happening. 

At first, I was sure that the tablet had to go. However, after composing myself, I simply showed her how to do it, and she picked it up relatively quickly. 

And that’s the point. Children only repeat what they’re shown. If you stick them in front of a tablet all day, they will only learn how to push buttons. If you play with them and show them how to use toys, that’s what they’ll do. 

So, is the tablet an evil invention or a useful tool? I’m leaning toward the latter. My toddler isn’t just watching – she’s learning. Her tablet provides a world of knowledge at her fingertips. 

Let the tablet provide some much-needed respite when you need a few moments to yourself, and then take it away when it’s time to interact with the real world. Like everything else, moderation is key. Also, don’t use the tablet as a bargaining chip. You’ll only teach bad habits that way. 

Remember, we live in a digital world. Our kids will have to use these devices at some point, so why not teach responsible behavior at a young age? 

Yes, my three-year-old has a tablet, and that’s okay. Don’t @ me, though. 



Too Shallow for Swimming With Sharks

Shannon Jackson



University of Florida student Stefani Luke loved the ocean. She lived to be on the water. She was given a surfboard when she was in high school, but growing up in Ft. Lauderdale didn’t offer her much opportunity to ride any exciting waves. Going to college in Gainesville, Florida would provide her with a chance to take weekend trips to the popular beach town, St. Augustine to check out some waves. 

One stormy Tuesday, Stefani and some friends heard the news about coastal swells reaching up to five feet. They loaded up their boards and began a caravan. There were 11 kids but only 8 surfboards. She was excited to finally have the chance to use her board on some real waves, but she was also very aware of sharks. She was a biology major, recently working as an intern at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of her work there was done in a lab or in area rivers. The biggest risk at her job had been alligators. 

Stefani’s love of the ocean and interest in fisheries compelled her to stay abreast of shark activity along the east coast. She knew that in 2019, reports of shark attacks, either provoked or unprovoked, reached nearly 150. 

The kids arrived at the beach, ready for some refreshing water and salty air. Today was a day to enjoy a day out of school. They unloaded the boards from their roof racks. Stefani waxed her beloved board alongside her good friends. Since there were more kids there than boards, Stefani offered her board up to a friend to try first. She figured she’d just do a little body surfing to warm up her muscles before fully engaging on her board. 

The waves were slightly disappointing. The stories they’d heard about giant waves were exaggerated, topping out at maybe three feet. She swam into the surf and waited. She thought she was a good distance from the surfers with boards. The water was a little colder than expected, and she hadn’t brought her wet suit. She swam parallel to the shore for a bit, to warm up. She ended up swimming close to her friend who’d borrowed her board. She waited in the line up, just beyond the breaking point of the waves. She was ready to body surf and catch some waves. 

The waves were coming in sets of four. She took the first in a set. It picked her up and she swam with it. As she glided in toward the shore she saw the dark shadow of what she knew was a shark. Everyone knows that you don’t panic when you see a shark. You don’t thrash around in the water. You don’t show signs of distress that signal to a shark that you’re easy prey. She forgot all that. All Stefani could think was “I don’t want to get eaten by a shark today!” She swam for her life. She swam fast, and probably a little crazy. 

The realization of her frenzy made her calm down slightly. She dropped the panicky swimming. She stopped swimming to realize that she was only in about a foot of water! She felt very silly, probably looking like a fool to anyone who might’ve seen this spectacle. 

She stood in the water to see her friend that had borrowed her board. Her friend asked with excitement, “Did you see that shark?!” Stefani acknowledged that she had in fact seen it. Her friend offered her the board back. Stefani declined, “No thanks. I like my legs. I like walking”. It was at that moment that Stefani gave her board away. She was done surfing and never tried it again. 

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Feisty Chihuahua: The Perfect Hunting Dog?

Shannon Jackson



Kris Burget made a video in September 2011 where he explained the basics of how he prepared for hunting. Kris is a normal sized guy, but he goes out and hunts elk. Even a small elk is at least 500 pounds, but Kris is easygoing and confident as he explains how he gets ready.

The first thing he explains is that you should always have extra clothes, and he points out that even as he was speaking it looked as though there was a rain storm headed his way. If he became too wet and uncomfortable, he would have to cut his trip short, so he wanted to be able to change into rain gear if necessary.

The next thing he talked about was his cow calling gear. The gear was in his pocket and Kris squeezed it so listeners could hear the odd noise it made. Cow calling gear is available at sporting goods stores and hunters can use it to get the attention of the elk they are looking for. There are tutorials online so hunters can learn the best techniques and methods for using the gear.

Kris also carries an extra gun, as could be expected, and he has jerky within easy reach. Beef jerky is a convenient snack that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and that can be eaten without silverware, so hunters can conveniently carry it for when they need a snack while they are spending several hours in the outdoors. Hunters have to learn to be patient and do without nice things while on the hunt.

Finally, Kris pointed out that one of the most important things to bring on a hunting trip was a really good companion. For Kris, the perfect companion is his hunting dog. 

Anyone watching up to that point would be wondering where his dog was. Most people assume a hunting dog is going to be large, especially if the dog hunts elk. However, this is where Kris surprised everyone.

At that point, with a sly smile, Kris opened his camouflage backpack so he could introduce his hunting dog Coco. At first, you can’t see Coco because she is so small, but then she scrambles into view.

Kris is explaining how great Coco is at hunting, and how she is all business when it comes down to it. While he is talking, Coco seems to understand, because she lifts her tiny head higher and barks like crazy.

Kris warns everyone not to let Coco’s size fool them. Even though she looks small compared to other Chihuahuas, Coco obviously believes she is fierce and frightening. Her small size might be what makes her so good at tracking.

At the end of the video, Kris picks Coco the rest of the way out of the backpack and holds her up there with one hand. Is it true? I would have to see it to believe it.

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Dog Gets a Baby Shower & Everyone is Caught by Surprise

Shannon Jackson



There is no question that dog-owners have a unique, special bond with their furry friends, sometimes even going so far as to treat them literally as one of the family. And that means all the emotional ties connected to a canine friend are part of the package. Is it any surprise then that some even talk to their dogs like a roommate, telling them to be good and enjoy the day at a home until seen again in the evening? When you see this on a regular basis, the human-canine connection becomes natural and familiar, which probably explains why dogs do remain man’s best friend through the centuries.

Is It All In Our Minds?

In reality, dogs don’t really understand the specifics of what we are communicating when we talk. They hear sound and associate it with our pattern of behavior, interpreting care, attention, love, anger, disconnection and sadness in our tone and timbre. And dogs do feel connected back to us as well, as one of their pack. For anyone who doubts this, when you have a dog become so accustomed to you that it jumps up on the couch and pours its entire weight against your leg or side and goes to sleep, that a canine version of attachment.

The most traditional way of showing affection and favor of a dog is, of course, to give them an edible treat. Baths definitely don’t do it, and dogs really don’t care if they wear a sweater or not that says Merry Christmas on it. But put even a hint of food in front of them, and that canine olfactory sense kicks into overdrive on four legs. Physical affection is definitely understood as well, and most dogs love a good belly scratch or scruff behind the ears or under the neck. And then there are the dog owners who send their furry best friend flowers. Yes, we did write the word, “flowers.”

The Baby Shower Sneak Surprise

One teenager loves her baby doll so much, she gave her favorite canine a baby shower for the dog’s upcoming pregnancy. The party was set up with all the fixings and expectations of a baby shower except for one thing. The teenager didn’t tell anyone the party was for the dog. So, the invites went out, people got excited even though it was from the teen (yes, a few comments got passed around), and the baby shower date was set. On the big day, everyone invited who could make it showed up with gifts, food and drink were to be hand, and when the big moment arrived, the surprise was on the guests. Instead of the baby shower being for the teen herself, the guest of honor was in fact her canine love. Complete with maternity photos, cards, and well-wishing, her grown up puppy was feted in styled with a big canine baby shower. The dog, of course, could care less until the food was made available, in which case it was a proper party for a canine too.

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The Mysterious Black Fox of Manchester

Renee Yates



A little black fox was loose on the streets of Greater Manchester! Where did it come from, and why did it try and climb in a motorist’s van?

This fox has a story behind it. But what is that story?

One motorist was driving one day when he saw something. A cat, a skunk, or…could it be..? He slowed down. What was he seeing? He couldn’t tell at first. Was that a skunk playing around on an old road?

Then the motorist he saw he was looking at a fox was a fox. A black fox. He was obviously a little stunned. Like most humans, he had probably never seen a black fox before. Most people don’t even know they exist.

No they are not from industrial Manchester soot. Actually many foxes are born with black fur. They keep the black fur until they shed it as they reach maturity.

But this fox is no pup. Instead, it is one of the rare few that, through some genetic quirk, keeps its black fur for the rest of its adulthood.

The little black fox was hard to lay an eye on. As the smallest wild canines, foxes are quite adept at hiding. But what our motorist didn’t know is that they are quite deft at jumping, too!

That’s right—the little fox fox tried to leap-and-climb into the motorist’s vehicle! Crazy, isn’t it? This should have been a clue to something about the fox (no, the fox isn’t an Uber driver…that we know of). But at the time, the driver was simply quite surprised. What he did next might surprise you.

Well, the motorist did have a suspicion that not all was as it seemed. Doing the exact opposite of what many in the situation would do, he got out of his motor vehicle and tried to more closely encounter the little black fox. But that wasn’t what the fox had in mind.

It was almost funny—a grown motorist chasing a little black fox on a paved road, around the road in the bushes, over by a fence and finally a small building. Was the fox leading him somewhere?

One thing was for sure–even though the fox didn’t want to get too close, he seemed to be courting attention. Almost as if he wanted to be followed…or maybe rescued?

It turns out that was exactly the case! The fox was away from its home. And it wasn’t somewhere you’d normally find a fox.

The driver’s time was short with the fox. But we know now that the (some would say cat-like) canine is back in safe hands.

No, the fox wasn’t part of a zoo, and exhibit, or a farm. Instead he was the beloved pet of a family in Greater Manchester. He just happened to escape this day. As far as we know, he hasn’t ventured into the outside world again—yet!

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Paying Attention To Make Sure You Can Help When Needed

Kevin Wells



Getting Stuck and the Troubles It Brings

Sometimes young children reach into a small-mouthed bottle or jar to get a treat and discover that they can’t get their hand back out while they are holding onto the treat. It can turn into a frustrating situation, and some children become frightened because they think now they’re stuck forever. With children, there are hopefully adults around who can help them get their hand out and still find a way to get the treat.

The situation is much worse when it happens to a stray animal. Cats and dogs have to find food where they can, and every now and then they smell something delicious and put their heads in jars to get at the treat. If they are unlucky, they can’t get their heads back out. If they are stuck for too long, they could starve because they are unable to eat. If the jar is too tight, they will have trouble breathing.

Even if they can’t get their heads back out the way they got in, sometimes the poor creatures can break the jar by hitting it against something. Otherwise, they are dependant on the help of someone who notices their plight.

Meeting a New Friend at the Right Time

One little dog in Bhubaneswar, India, was unfortunate enough to get a bottle stuck on his head. Even though he wasn’t very big, the poor little dog discovered that once he got his head in the glass bottle he couldn’t get it back out again. For two long weeks, the poor dog managed to stay alive with his head stuck in a bottle.

Just as the situation was becoming dire, the little dog met up with two kind volunteers from an organization called Ekmara. They happened to be walking along and noticed him. Working as a team, they found a way to get the bottle off.

One of the volunteers started filming while the other one held the dog and went to work on the bottle. She twisted and turned and pulled, patiently but firmly working the bottle off. 

How Did the Little Dog Live So Long?

Ekmara’s founder, Purabi Patra, talked about another dog they had rescued from a similar situation about a week before. The other dog had his head in a jar for eight days before getting help. They figured the dog was drinking water from the jar caused by its own moisture when breathing. They also decided that the dog they helped more recently probably got water the same way.

Once their good deed was done, the volunteers happily watched the dog running away. They knew he was grateful and they were just glad they were in the right place at the right time. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, this story had a happily ever after.

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